Christa’s Soap Box – I love Blogging! (with Highlights from our Vacation in Mexico)

I just returned from a fun, but busy two weeks away from home – one week teaching in North Carolina, and the following week on a family vacation to the Riveria Maya in Mexico (near Cancun). I’m interspersing some pictures of our family vacation with my thoughts about blogging so you have something interesting to look at while you read.

Family Vacation in Mexico

Snorkeling at Xcaret, a natural theme park in the jungle of Mexico
We also visited two other eco-parks: Xplore and Xel-ha and they were all amazing!

While I was away on vacation, I had one of those moments of clarity that only happens when I’m away from my machine or relaxing and doing something else. Last year I wrote a post about my need to simplify social media. I followed it up a few weeks later with another post about what it was like a few weeks in. Now that a significant time has passed I realized what channel I enjoy the most – blogging!!

I enjoy being able to go in depth about thoughts I have, and being able to share multiple pictures to tell a more complete story.  I still share in-the-moment experiences and projects on Instagram and Facebook (find me on IG @christaquilts and my FB group ChristaQuilts) but I love being able to think about and express longer-form thoughts here on the blog. In fact what I usually like to do is gather the pictures and snippets I’ve shared on IG or FB over a period of days or weeks, and then turn that into a more complete story here on the blog.

Snorkeling in Mexico

Our family motto is work hard – play hard! We work a LOT so we can enjoy fun family vacations on a flexible schedule. Near the end of our trip it got very rainy and windy but that didn’t stop us from having a great time! The waters are warm and the views are spectacular!

When it comes to my thoughts on blogging, I’ve resisted the urge to follow the standard monetization model: churning out daily content to increase page views and qualify for google add revenue. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that model and plenty of bloggers earn a successful income doing that. (It’s also one of the reasons there’s so much free content out there – to attract more viewers and clicks.)

For me, the blog is more of a way for to document my quilting life (and occasional personal life) in real time. Of course I’ll still blog about new product announcements, workshops I’m teaching and quilting events I’m attending because after all, quilting is my full-time job and marketing is a huge part of that. But my favorite posts to write are process posts, sharing tips and techniques along the way while I’m creating. I also enjoy penning the occasional thought-provoking soapbox post, too!

Jason hamming it up in the Sea Turtle exhibit

My husband Jason, hamming it up at the Sea Turtle Exhibit

You’ll also notice I don’t do as many giveaways either. Although they are always fun and generate lots of traffic, it’s really too much to keep up with the flood of comments. I much prefer the thoughtful interactions we can have when you all leave comments or email me directly on a post of substance. I do try to respond to each comment personally (which you won’t always see in the comments section unless it’s something that everyone else needs to read, too).

Because I’m one of those people who tends to think out loud, blogging also helps me process things and get them out of my system. So it really IS true that quilting, or even writing about quilting is great therapy!! Since I recommitted to the blog at the end of last year, I’ve found that it’s easier to do consistently the more often I try.

Baby Sea Turtle

I fell in love with Sea Turtles on our vacation – the babies (above) have the most beautiful patterns on their shell! I’d never seen a full grown one (below) in real life until now – they get huge!!

Big Sea Turtle

It’s hard to tell the scale of this turtle but this one is at least 10x bigger than the baby. There was an even larger one but I missed getting a pic – trust me – they are huge!!!

When writing my blog, it takes me a long time to finalize each post, adding links and images where necessary and double, triple, quadruple checking for typos each time! But I heard once that if you “create before you consume” you feel a whole lot more productive. That seems to work for me as I usually try to start a blog post in the morning as part of my routine before I get into the flow of my workday.

It usually takes me a couple of days to knock out a blog post – so once I quit worrying about trying to blog daily and settled on 2-3 posts per week, I felt that’s something I can easily manage. That means if you see a week where I’ve only managed to write once, you’ll know there’s something big happening behind the scenes, or I’m just way behind on my work, LOL!!

Running in the Jungle

I did manage to get in a bit of exercise while on vacation. Our resort had lots of winding pathways that were perfect for jogging through the lush jungle. We saw all kinds of critters, too: iguanas, monkeys, coati and even racoons!! But alas, they were all too fast for my camara!

I try to keep a running list of topics I want to write about and will keep an editorial calendar so that I can be thinking about what I want to convey before I sit down to write. By keeping a running list, I can also pick and choose what I feel like writing at any given time. For example, I’m writing this one just as I returned from vacation, but wrote two more “evergreen” posts ahead of time while I was on vacation. They were faster and easier to crank out in in small snippets of time. Because I’ll have lots of catch up sewing to do when I get back, knowing I have a couple of posts in the queue waiting to go lets me relax and start writing more without feeling like it has to be done RIGHT NOW!!

Blogging is actually very similar to how I design and quit: I’ll think about something for awhile, block out time to work on a project, and then settle in for the actual work time without distractions. Also, when I’m not trying to cram something in last minute – either blogging or quilting – I can be more relaxed about it and enjoy the process more.

ziplining

Another thrilling part of our adventure was zip-lining through the jungle – most times it ended in water which was refreshing after a fun, heart-thumping ride!

Every now and then I hear about people lamenting the downfall of blogging and others questioning whether or not blogging is still relevant when there are so many other choices. Just like with anything else in life, writing a blog or even reading a blog isn’t for everyone, and that’s ok, too!

Ironically what I’ve found is that be because fewer people are blogging these days it actually allows my blog to be seen more, unlike the “blogging boom” of a few years ago when everyone was doing it. Because there’s not such a drive for me to monetize the blog – or stress about whether my “SEO” is “MIA” –  I can can focus more on being a quilter who blogs, not a blogger who quilts.

Hammock Time!

Proof that we’re not working ALL THE TIME though sometimes it might seem like it!

And with that said, now it’s time for me to unpack, do some laundry, and start thinking about the next quilt. It was a fabulous vacation, but now I’m excited to be home and I’m ready to get back to my sewing machine!!

22 thoughts on “Christa’s Soap Box – I love Blogging! (with Highlights from our Vacation in Mexico)

  1. cozyquiltslb says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on blogging. I too use my blog to document and share my quilting journey. I’m retired now and have no desire to return to “work” . Posts are created when a quilt is finished or if I find something I would like to share with everyone. The rest of my time is spent creating…..it’s a wonderful life.

  2. Michele@CrayonBoxQuiltStudio says:

    I love to blog too and was away from it too much over the past year so I’m making a conscious effort to get back to writing more often. It is through blogs that I’ve learned so much, thanks to great bloggers like you, and I hope to help inspire someone else.

  3. Laura C says:

    Your blog really fits the bill for me as I do not subscribe to any social media. I was glad to learn late last year that of the venues on which you had posted and decided to cut back, your blog was not one of them. Thank you!

  4. Mary Jo Lamping says:

    Enjoyed reading about your thought process about blogging. Personally, I’d much rather read a blog entry with substance a couple times a week. Being a fairly new quilter, I want to read about the process behind a person’s work, not just look at pictures. I find IG to be lacking in substance from the person posting, and I don’t care to read all of the comments from readers. Glad you decided to,continue your blogging!

  5. Tu-Na Quilts says:

    Great thought provoking post! I enjoy reading a good blog post written less frequently than a daily one lacking in content. So good to know that I am not the only one who takes a long time to write a post. And why is it that I don’t discover all the typos until AFTER I push “publish”? I am hoping that blogging will continue as other avenues of social media (twitter, Instagram and even facebook) really don’t allow for lengthy quality content. Thank you for posting about this. You’ve given me a lot to think about.

  6. Gretchen says:

    I appreciate your blog. Especially when you share non-blogging non-quilting experiences. Your quote about being a quilter who blogs not the other way around appeals to me. Many blogs seemed like the mentioned quilting only to push products or merchandise and were too irrelevant.

    You is just right for me.

  7. Cocoa Quilts says:

    Christa, keep up the great blog. I love you process and am glad that you are choosing to keep the blog going. I agree with so many points in your post. I like to see IG photos, but mostly enjoy blog posts that tell me about the quilt/tip/plan from start to finish. I truly appreciate that you aren’t monetizing your blog. There are so many that see to only show us things that they have links for, they have helped me to clean up my blog follows over the last few months. Thanks again and keep up the great blog.

  8. Hedy Hahn says:

    I love your blog, it’s very informative and well written. Second, I also went to the same places in Mexico that you did, but it was a long time ago. I was thinking of when we snorkeled in a cave, it was really fun. Vacations are very important as they give us time to rest our minds as well as our bodies and we come back home energized and ready to start anew.

  9. Liz Wilson says:

    I really enjoy reading all your soapbox posts! This post really resonates with me. I too come up with ideas *as* I’m writing because getting it all down is how I process my thoughts. I love Instagram and the quick pace of it, but it would never replace blogging for me.

  10. Pat Evans says:

    Thank you for continuing to blog. I don’t (and won’t) do other social media. I particularly enjoy your process blogs and thank you also for not having ads. I know many of the bloggers I read are frustrated right now with the Blogger changes that have disrupted the sense of community that develops with commenters. I hope blogging survives as I have learned so much from others and met wonderful virtual friends.
    Looks like your vacation was fun and relaxing.

  11. Judi Rutherford says:

    It is so nice to read a blog that is thought out and informative. I am a reader that prefer blogs to instagram and facebook except when there are adds every 5-10 lines of blog text or the only point in the blog is to sell a new pattern or book. I have stopped reading blogs I enjoyed because of the monetization of them. Thank you for taking the time to think about what works for you and sharing it with us.

  12. Rosemarie Castonguay says:

    I’ve been blogging for over ten years now and it is so interesting to go back and look at my progress over the years and what my thoughts were at the time. We all blog for various reasons and when we enjoy something, it shows. Quilting and blogging …. they go hand in hand. Continue blogging, your posts are informative and well done.
    Your vacation looked great. I was recently in Grenada and turtles were laying their eggs on the beach and we took a night time excursion to see a leatherback sea turtle lay her eggs. It was a magical experience. The scientific crew also released a bucket of baby turtles while we were there. They would have more of a chance at night.

  13. Susan A says:

    I so enjoy your blog so please continue
    It was enjoyable reading and seeing the pictures of your vacation
    Now the hard part… catching up

  14. allisonreidnem says:

    My heart is with you on the subject of blogging Christa – and other things social media too. I’m just about to have my blog page updated but I wouldn’t want to monetize it or have it swamped with ads jumping at readers. My blog is the hub of how I keep in touch with and contribute to the worldwide quilty community. I like to use it as a reflective platform and I don’t beat myself up if I manage just one post a week – blogging shouldn’t be a chore. And I agree it does take a good few hours of writing, checking, editing photos and researching to produce an informative blog post so I always appreciate reading a well prepared post – I know it’s not easy!
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences of social media – your reflections have helped me gain clarity of thought on the subject too.

  15. Mary says:

    I love your approach to blogging and always enjoy reading your posts, learning about you, your work, and your family. The growth and success you’ve achieved are well deserved, as is your wonderful Mexican vacation.

  16. Karen Garth says:

    Thank you for a fun post. My husband and I went to Xcaret many years ago, before it was wiped out by a hurricane and later rebuilt. We had a wonderful time there also, and I am glad to see it is back and again a great place to visit!

    • Christa says:

      We saw pictures there of the hurricane destruction – so crazy!!

      Christa Watson Instagram @christaquilts website/blog: ChristaQuilts.com Click here to join my facebook group: Quilt with Christa

      On Sun, Jun 17, 2018 at 10:52 PM, Christa Quilts wrote:

      >

  17. Shelley Kohler says:

    You were my first quilting instructor years ago and I just recently discovered your blog… I was so excited! Love your vacation pics and your insight. Look forward to your posts.

  18. Paula Hedges says:

    Enjoyed your thoughts and your photos. Relaxing on the beach in a hammock would be ideal! Look forward to your next blog.

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